The murder rate in Seattle has soared to its highest level in a decade – as the city council approved cutting the police budget by nearly 20 per cent.
Council members voted overwhelmingly to cut funds for police training and overtime and to eliminate dozens of vacant positions within the Seattle Police Department after months of contentious talks.
The cut will amount to 18 per cent.
That falls well short of the 50 per cent local activists demanded amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
Following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis protesters burned down a police precinct building and set up the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone, which sought to operate on Marxist-Leninist principles.
At least 31 people were arrested at the CHAZ zone and crime rose by more than 500 per cent in just over three weeks.
Thousands of protesters – many hailing from the far-left ANTIFA terrorist organization – took over the six-square block area of Seattle, where no police officers were allowed.
The commune quickly run out of food, putting out a plea for “vegan meat alternatives” and other soy-based food donations.
They had a list of demands, including the “abolition” of the Seattle Police Department and its attached court system, free college for all people in the state, as well as “the abolition of imprisonment, generally speaking, but especially the abolition of both youth prisons and privately-owned, for-profit prisons.”
The streets were controlled by a hip hop artist-turned-warlord by the name of Raz Simone, who established an armed private police force that does did hesitate to dole out beatings to communal scofflaws.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Seattle’s Mayor Jenny Durkan engaged in a war of words over the Zone.
“Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will,” Trump warned Durkan and Washington state governor Jay Inslee – both Democrats – in a tweet, calling the protesters “domestic terrorists” who have taken over Seattle.
“This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stooped (sic) IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST,” he said in another tweet.
Durkan replied, telling Trump to “go back to his bunker” a reference to when Trump sheltered in the White House bunker after D.C protests and riots got too close.
Inslee tweeted: “A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state’s business. ‘Stoop’ tweeting.”
Two people – including a 16-year-old boy – were shot and killed around CHAZ – with police finally moving in on July 1st and cleared up the area.
Seattle’s city council also decided to transfer parking enforcement officers, mental health workers and 911 dispatchers out of the police department.
“I believe we are laying the groundwork to make systemic and lasting changes to policing,” Mayor Jenney Durkan said in a statement.
Durkan will sign the police cut order this week.
“We have rightly put forward a plan that seeks to ensure SPD has enough officers to meet 911 response and investigative needs throughout the city, while acknowledging and addressing the disproportionate impacts policing has had on communities of colour, particularly Black communities,” she said.
“I applaud the City Council for taking a more deliberate and measured approach to the 2021 Seattle Police Department budget than occurred this summer which led to the resignation of former SPD Chief Carmen Best.”
The budget will spend up to $100 million for projects in communities of colour and the hiring of 100 police officers in 2021.
The budget moves come as the Seattle marked the 55th murder of the year Monday.
The city had 28 homicide victims last year and 32 in 2018.
Burglaries are also up. There have been 8,418 burglary incidents, compared to 7,634 in 2019.
'It's a worthwhile investment': Council set to vote on $129 million plan to revamp ByWard Market – CTV News Ottawa
While the COVID-19 lockdown has quieted the usually bustling ByWard Market, according to Councillor Mathieu Fleury, that’s not the only reason.
“For an area like the ByWard Market that’s so iconic and so important for our local economy, it’s a worthwhile investment,” says Fleury.
In preparation to one-day welcome visitors back to the market, the Rideau-Vanier councillor says it’s a perfect opportunity to revamp the downtown hotspot.
“The best way the city can support it is in terms of beautification. In terms of renewal. In terms of having one look and feel in the public spaces. The sidewalks, the streets, the street furniture, the lighting, the benches, the trees,” says Fleury.
Council votes Wednesday on a $129 million proposal to revamp the ByWard Market, including the roads and sidewalks.
“When you look at that you say, ‘well, OK that’s a big number’, and it is,” says Fleury. “But it’s really like redoing two main streets. Elgin street was $60 million, so redoing two Elgin streets.”
Restaurateaur John Borsten also serves as a member of the ByWard Market BIA, and says there’s no place in Ottawa worthier of an investment.
“If your family comes to visit you, from Toronto or Montreal or wherever, you’re going to end up in the market,” says Borsten. “It’s just a whole neighbourhood of activity there. You’re connected to the canal, you’re connected to the Rideau Centre and Rideau Street. It’s really the crux of the city there.”
Although the COVID-19 pandemic brought new challenges, Bornsten tells CTV News Ottawa it also highlighted where the market needed to make improvements.
“The amount of support from all angles, from the little stores, to the restaurants. People want to tweak it and they have some issues with parts of it. But far and away it’s got full support, which you never see,” says Borsten.
Fleury maintains this heart of Ottawa is in dire need of a facelift. Council though will decide with a vote Wednesday.
“We really hope to see an entire district where there’s one common look and feel,” says Fleury. “It’s a welcoming space. All storefronts are occupied, and it’s friendly for everyone.”
Borsten adds, “I think it’s going to happen. It’s just a question of how quickly.”
What's a sustainable investment in RRSP season? – NOW Toronto
No industry organization or government in Canada has set a standard for a “sustainable investment.”
Ben185 / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Many Canadians want to invest their retirement savings in environmentally sustainable enterprises.
But according to Vancouver-based Dermot Foley – who spent 17 years as a sustainable investment-portfolio manager and shareholder-advocacy analyst – it’s not always easy for the average person to figure out how to do this.
“It’s not a putdown of people, because we’re all extremely busy,” Foley explains. “We don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about where our retirement money is being invested, mainly because it’s one more thing in the great juggling act that we all do day to day.”
Moreover, the former Vancity employee said that there’s a broad spectrum of activities that are being described as “sustainable,” depending on the lens that is being applied.
No industry organization or government in Canada has set a standard for a “sustainable investment.”
“Just as an example,” Foley said, “I can imagine the government talking about sustainable oil, you know, or uranium.”
According to him, even tobacco companies or weapons manufacturers could, theoretically, obtain a high sustainability rating, depending on their business practices. Then they could be included in a mutual fund that scores well on a chart prepared by a rating agency.
Prior to his retirement last year, Foley said, he became involved in “a little bit of an argument” with people who prepared ratings of investment funds with one well-known agency.
“I looked deeper at the methodology and had a lot of things confirmed as to how they were doing this,” Foley recalled. “It really isn’t about sustainability. It’s more about coming up with a standard for the industry that the industry can live with.”
Sustainable RRSP: Find the right investment advisor
So where does that leave the average retail investor who doesn’t want their money contributing to planetary ruin?
“I think it’s really important to have an investment adviser who understands your concept of sustainability,” he said. “What are you concerned about?”
As for himself, Foley is particularly keen not to invest in the fossil-fuel sector. It’s not just because of the havoc that this industry is causing with rising greenhouse-gas emissions. It’s also because he doesn’t think the industry is sustainable.
“We’re going to see a transition away from fossil fuels, and I would like to help see my limited resources go toward helping that transition, investing in funds that have a substantial number of renewable-energy companies or clean-water companies,” he said.
Back in the early and mid-1990s, Foley was one of Vancouver’s more vocal advocates for addressing climate change.
As a one-term park commissioner and as a case manager with the B.C. Energy Coalition, he frequently spoke out about the need for proper planning to take into account all the social and environmental costs of capital projects.
“I got involved in climate-change debate in the 1990s,” Foley noted.
Back then, the concentration of greenhouse-gas equivalents in the atmosphere was 354 parts per million.
Last October, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported that the concentration of carbon-dioxide equivalents stood at 412 parts per million. That’s 47 per cent higher than the beginning of the Industrial Age and 16.4 per cent higher than 1990, the year Foley was elected to the Vancouver park board.
Climate-related financial disclosures
Since then, concern over the climate has expanded from hardcore environmental activists to the money-management industry.
The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, known as TCFD, is pushing for increased corporate reporting in this area. The organization, which is chaired by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, wants money managers to be in a better position to evaluate climate-related risks and opportunities.
Foley pointed out that there are trillions of dollars in institutional investment pools such as the Canada Pension Plan, the B.C. Investment Management Corporation, and other entities around the world.
“Financial-risk disclosure is really important for these much bigger pools of capital,” he said.
That’s because the Canada Pension Plan, for example, has to be able to think on a much longer time horizon than an individual who is investing to save up for a down payment on a home.
In 2020, the Canadian stock market, as a whole, fared much worse than many other markets because the Toronto Stock Exchange is so heavily weighted toward fossil-fuel and banking companies.
“Those areas have lagged a bit,” he said, “whereas the more future-looking companies – the Googles, the Apples, the Microsofts, even Amazon – have done much better.”
Then there’s the electric-vehicle manufacturer Tesla, whose stock rose 695 per cent in 2020, briefly making its CEO, Elon Musk, the richest man in the world.
“The notion of a visionary is, I think, what people are investing in,” Foley said.
A version of this story originally appeared in the Georgia Straight.
Big Investment Firm Bought Up Gold Stocks and Microsoft. Here’s What It Sold. – Barron's
An investment firm owned by a royal family recently made major adjustments in its investment portfolio.
LGT Capital Partners, which is owned by the Princely House of Liechtenstein, bought up gold stocks
(ticker: NEM) and
(MSFT), while selling
(SWI) shares in the fourth quarter. LGT disclosed the trades in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
LGT, which manages $65 billion in assets, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the stock transactions.
LGT bought 340,410 additional shares of Newmont in the fourth quarter to end 2020 with 1.4 million shares.
Newmont stock surged 37.8% in 2020, and so far this year, shares have risen 3.1%. In comparison, the
S&P 500 index,
a measure of the broader market, rose 16.3% last year, and has risen 2.3% year to date.
Newmont is one of Barron’s top stock picks for 2021. “Gold remains a good hedge against ultraloose monetary policies worldwide and possible higher inflation,” we wrote.
The investment firm bought 769,890 more American depositary receipts of South African-based miner AngloGold to end the fourth quarter with 1.9 million ADRs.
AngloGold ADRs managed to eke out a 1.3% gain in 2020. So far this year they are up 2.6%.
In November, AngloGold halted operations at an Argentina mine for 10 days following the detection of Covid-19 cases among its workers. In December, AngloGold said that strong cash-generation will support a sharply higher dividend payment. Also that month, BMO Capital Markets analyst Raj Ray upgraded AngloGold to Outperform from Market Perform. “[W]e see some potential near-term positive catalysts that could drive share price performance,” Ray wrote in a research report.
Microsoft stock surged 41.0% last year, and so far in January it is up 1.6%.
Microsoft has benefited by focusing on the cloud, a move that paid off as the coronavirus pandemic pushed office workers to work from home, creating a critical mass of remote workers. Last week, the software giant announced an investment in
’ (GM) self-driving-car unit Cruise.
LGT bought 299,720 Microsoft shares in the quarter to end 2020 with 1.2 million shares.
The investment firm also sold 90,000 SolarWinds shares to end the year with 430,000 shares of the provider of IT infrastructure management software.
SolarWinds stock crumbled in December after the company disclosed that it was the victim of a cyberattack. Shares ended 2020 with a loss of 19.4%, but they are up 6.6% so far in January.
In January, J.P. Morgan analyst Sterling Auty wrote in a report that SolarWinds stock was “an attractive opportunity” for those tolerant of risk.
Inside Scoop is a regular Barron’s feature covering stock transactions by corporate executives and board members—so-called insiders—as well as large shareholders, politicians, and other prominent figures. Due to their insider status, these investors are required to disclose stock trades with the Securities and Exchange Commission or other regulatory groups.
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